Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quick Way For Nourishing Myself

Taking care of myself has been a philosophy that Mum drummed into me since I was a young girl.

Taking care of myself meant eating healthy and in my case, I'm the only daughter who dares to drink the darkest of brews just so I can look my prettiest best. Ah yes. I also believed in no pain, no gain.

So if I had to drink some herbal soup with strange ingredients (and they usually smelled very strong), I told myself, it's for my own good. I'm nourishing my body. I'm keeping alive centuries of knowledge and practise.

Until today, I find the best places to remind me of my childhood is to walk into a Chinese herbal shop and inhale the fragrance of herbs! To me, that is the best smell in the world.

Anyway, for Chinese women, replenishing our blood and reviving our bodies is a must after each menstruation. I've learnt this since young whereby Mum would brew for us Dang Gui or Ba Zheng Tang a few days after we were done with our periods.

Usually boiled with chicken thighs (minus chicken skin as the skin tends to make the soup oily), slurping these soups warm at night just before going to bed was a treat. I loved eating the tender chicken meat, dipped in soya sauce while I slurped spoonfuls of the dark brew (if it was Ba Zheng Tang). We had to drink the soup while it was still warm.

Now that I'm an adult, I still take care of myself. It's very telling that when I was studying in university back in the mid-90s that Dad bought for me a mini slow cooker! I was to remember to brew for myself nourishing soups because more than ever I was not living at home then and didn't get the benefit of drinking homecooked soup!
(By the way, I still have the mini slow cooker - after countless house moves and such. It's still something I cherish!)

Although I now have my own kitchen, sometimes I just want a bit of convenience even when I am supposed to be eating healthy.

My key secret is Eu Yan Sang's Bak Foong Pills. Yup, instead of brewing soup, I can now pop pills each month. It's priced at RM88 for a box of 6 bottles (14 gm each).

I am supposed to take 1 bottle of these pills with warm water once a week but I usually take 1 bottle each time my menstruation ends. Maybe I should follow Eu Yan Sang's instructions. The only thing I worry is that taking too much of these pills will be heaty as it does contain blood-building herbs.

I used to buy Bak Foong Pills of the non-branded variety but these days, I think I should be careful what I eat. That's why I trust Eu Yan Sang a lot more than a no-name bottle of pills. Knowing what I know of things and stuff made in China, I best put my trust in a brand that's known for generations. My rationale is, in case there's any issue, I can always go back to the brand and get some answers.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Essential Buddha Fruit Tea

I've taken to keeping a bottle of Buddha Fruit Tea in my fridge these days after I realized how a simple tea like this can keep me in tip top condition even as I run about with my busiest of business days.

Buddha Fruit or Lo Han Guo (Momordica grosvenori) is one of those herbs I have stashed in my kitchen cupboard. It's a dried fruit, the size of a tennis ball, the colour of greenish gold. It's lightweight with a delicate taste that makes it a versatile herb used in sweet and savoury soups. (For savoury soups, you can boil Lo Han Guo with pork to cure pneumonia and cough. But it has a taste which some people cannot stomach. If you belong to the category of people who are used to drinking Lo Han Guo as a sweet tea, then stick to it.)

In the past I used to boil Lo Han Guo fruit (1 fruit per 1 - 2 liters water) with dried longan, dried red dates and dried lotus seeds. This made a good dessert when served warm or chilled.

Now I just boil 1 Lo Han Guo fruit (wash the fruit first then break it up into smaller pieces - the skin cracks open to reveal dried seeds and dried flesh) in 2 liters of water for 20 minutes on a medium fire. Once the water has turned the colour of tea, I add in 2 small pieces of brown stick sugar, which you can buy from any good Chinese herbal shop. Let it simmer for 10 minutes until the sugar melts. Then you can either drink it warm or store it in the fridge, to be drunk as regularly as you would drink water.

Here are 3 tips on choosing a good Lo Han Guo.

1. Colour - the colour of dried Lo Han Guo must be of a light greenish-gold. The skin must not be too dark. It should NOT look like black or almost black.

2. Bounce - Yes, bounce the Lo Han Guo fruit your kitchen counter top. If it bounces gently like a soft ball, it's fresh.

3. Shake - Finally, shake the Lo Han Guo fruit. You should not hear the seeds moving about inside the dried fruit. If you do, the fruit is not fresh.

Lo Han Guo helps with coughs and sore throats so everyone in the family should drink Lo Han Guo tea weekly.

It is tremendously useful for keeping lungs healthy and keeping your bowels in good shape (so it is good for those suffering from constipation).

What's more, it's also a longevity cure so more reason to make lots of this for essential daily imbibing. If you have a heaty body (due to too many late nights, or eating too much curry or fried foods) taking Lo Han Gua tea will help cool your body down.

Like I said, I've simplified the tea by just boiling it with brown sugar and the taste is just as good if not better. You can keep the tea chilled in the fridge for a week. Drink it daily and you'll never have a cold or cough problem. Plus it's safe for the whole family, from kids to adults.

And did I tell you the fruit is cheap? I get 3 Lo Han Gua fruit (medium-size, the size of small tennis balls) for RM2.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Herbal Teas for Good Health

I was in Hong Kong in March and I was blown away by the easy accessibility of herbs, herbal drinks, herbal soups and healthy practices of the people of Hong Kong. I will share more of that with you once my business schedule has toned down a bit. Right now, I am stealing a bit of time out (from working on a client's website) to post this.

I saw this and thought it fantastic to share with all of you here.

As an aside, I've hardly been making soups. Sigh. What a pity huh. I've been involved in lots of committee work (from my own businesswomen group committee to my residential committee) and that plus business has taken me away from my fave pastime, making soups.

OK, enough of that.

This link is about Chinese herbal teas which promote sleep. Without proper sleep, one gets grouchy and ill-tempered. Sleep also allows your body to repair itself.

Lots of easy tea recipes on this Chinese herbal tea page. Do take a look and try them out!